JUMP START YOUR LEADERSHIP

Monday, January 26, 2015

JUMP START YOUR LEADERSHIP
A 90-Day Improvement Plan
By John C. Maxwell

OVERVIEW: John C. Maxwell, #1 New York times bestselling author, presents his 90-day guide to improving your leadership. Whether you want to increase your influence, prepare yourself for that big promotion, or get a handle on leadership for the first time, you can trust John Maxwell to help you in the journey. Jump Start Your Leadership will give you the insight, inspiration, and instruction you need to see tangible improvement in your leadership skills in ninety days.

AUTHOR: John C. Maxwell is America's # 1 leadership authority with over twenty-four million books sold. Leadership is one of his passions. He has been on a leadership journey for over fifty years and has dedicated his life to sharing with others what he has been learning about leading.

MY REVIEW: John Maxwell has done it again. He just keeps writing excellent books about leadership. In this book he leads you through ninety days with clear steps to help you develop in key areas of leadership. He begins by reminding you to take your focus off of a job title and explore how to earn the respect and trust of your team by developing relationships. From there he helps you give more attention to how to develop the team and increase productivity. Finally, he focuses on how to share what you've learned to help the people you lead to become leaders in their own right.

No matter where you are in leadership his 90-day guide will help you improve your leadership. It will take about 15 minutes a day for 90 days to improve your leadership. If you don't have a leadership position yet, adopting the principles Maxwell offers in this book will open the leadership door in the future.

Each day begins with a great quote. Using that quote as a starting point, John Maxwell writes a brief paragraph offering his thoughts on leadership. And then space is provided for you to write a response and take action. The ninety excellent quotes are worth the price of the book. One of my favorites is: "The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes." by Benjamin Disraeli. You can be ready for that opportunity by reading this book.

(I received this book from Center Street, Hachette Book Group in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

YOU CAN YOU WILL

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


YOU CAN YOU WILL
8 Undeniable Qualities Of A Winner
By Joel Osteen

OVERVIEW: "This is your time. This is your moment. Put your shoulders back. Hold your head up high. Walk with confidence. Winning is in your DNA, and it's about to come out in a greater way. You may have had some victories in the past, but you haven't seen anything yet. As you put these principles into action, you will step into a new level of your destiny. You will discover talents you didn't know you had, and you will see God's blessing and favor in amazing ways. Get ready! You can, you will." – Joel Osteen, from the Introduction.

AUTHOR: Joel Osteen is the senior pastor of America's largest church―Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. His weekly services are seen by more than 10 million viewers each week in the United States, and millions more in 100 nations around the world. He is author of six #1 national bestselling books and has been named by numerous publications as one of the most influential Christian leaders in the world. He resides in Houston with his wife, Victoria, and their children.

MY REVIEW: This is a good book. It is another book by Joel Osteen that is uplifting, encouraging and will make you feel better about yourself. I do not tout Osteen as a great preacher of the gospel. I honestly do not know his doctrinal position on many matters that I consider important. I just know that he brings a message of hope. I like him, not so much as a preacher of the gospel, but as a good person with an encouraging message. He lifts you up when you are down. Regardless, there are many that do not like him or his message. I am not here to defend Osteen or his message but simply to say that I like him and this is a good book.

Osteen presents the message of this book in eight brief chapters: Keep Your Vision in Front of You, Run Your Race, Expect Good Things, Have a Positive Mind-set, Commit to Excellence, Keep Growing, Serve Others, Stay Passionate. Now for the life of me I can't find anything wrong with this message. To the contrary, I like it! So I recommend this book as one that will help you reach your potential and achieve new levels of success in your life.

(I received this book from Hackett Book Group in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

THE LOVE FIGHT

Wednesday, January 07, 2015


THE LOVE FIGHT
How Achievers & Connectors Can Build a Marriage that Lasts
By Tony Ferretti, PhD & Peter J. Weiss, MD

OVERVIEW: Using true-to-life examples, The Love Fight offers insight into this challenging relationship dynamic and practical tools to heal, nurture, and grow your marriage.
     *Discover the common personality traits behind the succeed-at-work/
       fail-at-home syndrome.
     *Understand your spouse, and yourself, better.
     *Find simple assessments and exercises to evaluate your relationship.
     *Learn the best strategies to create a mutually satisfying marriage.

AUTHORS: Dr. Tony Ferretti is a licensed psychologist specializing in helping professionally successful clients with relationship problems. Dr. Ferretti holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of New York at Albany and received his PhD from the University of Southern Mississippi. Dr. Peter Weiss is physician and health care executive with a passion for helping others to physical and emotional health. Dr. Weiss holds bachelor of arts and doctor of arts and doctor of medicine degrees from Washington University in St. Louis.

MY REVIEW: This is an excellent book that will help achievers and connectors to build a marriage that lasts. But it is more than that. This book is valuable for anybody that wants better relationships, married or single. I was a senior minister for forty-seven years and did a lot of counseling. I wasn't very good at it and often referred those I counseled with to seek out professional counseling. I wish I had read this book back then. I needed it not only to help me with counseling but with all of my relationships.

I was impressed that Ferretti and Weiss included God in the advice they gave. They brought Him in carefully and gracefully. At the end of the book they very carefully invite the reader to come into a right relationship with God. This is good!

Both of these men are well qualified by training and experience. This book offers insight into the challenging relationship between achievers and connectors with tools to heal, nurture, and grow your marriage.

(I received this book from The Cadence Group in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

ORDINARY TIME

Monday, December 29, 2014



We sing, "These are the special times...".

We seem to live for them. The special times. Christmas. Other holidays. Vacation times.

We live from peak event to peak event, from one bright moment to the next.

We don't know how to live in ordinary time---the in-between time.

WAITING is the in-between time.

Football season just ended. We are WAITING for baseball season to begin.

We seem to feel that life doesn't happen while we wait.

We don't know how to act in ordinary time, the in-between time.

We act like life isn't happening NOW---it's only happening in the future.

Life is calling for us to be in the moment, this season---now.

When we learn to wait we learn that life is packed in the MOMENT.

T. S. Eliot was right when he wrote that there is, "a lifetime burning in every moment."

We need to stop straining and struggling and simply let life unfold.

There is so much wonderful life packed in the MOMENT!

SERENDIPITY-----UNSEEN TREASURE IN PLAIN SIGHT

Friday, December 05, 2014


Wilbur M. Smith was one of my favorite professors at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California.

He had a library of 25,000 books. He always looked upon his library as a workshop.

When he walked into the classroom he would be carrying a stack of books. He would plop them down on the speaker's stand and then he would begin talking. And for the next hour I was held spellbound.
Early on in my education I had attended a class on the Old Testament. It put me to sleep! Wilbur Smith brought the Old Testament to life. I would run out of his class and drive straight to my little office at the church building and begin preparing a sermon. I couldn't wait to preach. I was on fire for God.

I decided I had to have many of the books Smith had in his library and talked about. I never had a goal of 25,000 but I did line my shelves with many good books. When I retired from full time preaching I disposed of fifteen cases of books. But I retained many volumes. On one wall in our family room is a built-in bookcase full of books. In my office closet, one wall of shelves is full and there are two other bookcases in there. Out in the office there are four bookcases full of books and books stacked on my study desk and my computer desk and on a stand by my reading chair.

Now, since the only messages I deliver are funeral messages I am slowly beginning to get rid of books I no longer need. I am doing so with mixed emotions. I am a little sad to see the valuable books go but I am making wonderful discoveries. I am discovering all over again great articles on vital topics. I not only have many hard back volumes but stacks of magazines that contain outstanding writing on every theological subject imaginable.

Just yesterday I picked up a magazine thinking that I would toss it and ended up reading and studying the articles for over an hour. Serendipity!

Another magazine that was on its way out the door has inspired some thoughts that I will be posting on my blog soon. The thoughts come from a sermon that William Willimon wrote for Pulpit Resource. I smiled when I read anew this message that I first read back in 1997. I thought to myself, "This is good stuff." Serendipity!

So I go on sorting through books and magazines. I do so no longer dreading the work. I do so with eager anticipation. I'm finding treasures that have been "buried" far too long.

THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP


THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP
The Japanese Art of Decluttering And Organizing
By Marie Kondo

OVERVIEW: Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you'll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo's clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list). With detailed  guidance for determining which items in your house "spark joy" (and which don't), this international bestseller featuring Tokyo's newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home―and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.

AUTHOR: Marie "KonMari" Kondo runs an acclaimed consulting business in Tokyo helping clients transform their cluttered homes into spaces of serenity and inspiration. With a three-month waiting list, her KonMari Method of decluttering and organizing has become an international phenomenon. The Life-Changing Magic of tidying Up is a best seller in Japan, Germany, and the UK, with more than two million copes sold worldwide, and has been turned into a television drama for Japanese TV. She has been featured on more than thirty major Japanese television and radio programs and in the London times, the Sunday Times, Red magazine, and You magazine, among others.

MY REVIEW: Many books on decluttering have been written. And I have read most of them. This one is the best! That's not to say that I agree with everything Kondo has to say on the subject. But I do agree with almost all of it and I think this is a great book.

When I first saw the title I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about the book. Tidying up is a term I am familiar with but not one that I use very often. And I wasn't too sure about the Japanese art of decluttering because I really didn't know anything about it. Even now, I'm not sure if Kondo is really describing a method that can be described as a Japanese method or if it is just her method and she happens to be Japanese. It doesn't matter either way. This is a book that you need to read if you are interested in decluttering.

Kondo had my attention from the first chapter or section, Why can't I keep my house in order? to the last, The magic of tidying dramatically transforms your life. If you are seriously interested in this subject, you will not want to put the book down. Marie Kondo makes the claim that she is showing how to put your space in order in a way that will change your life forever. Is that true? Maybe! Yes, I think it just might be.

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

VANISHING GRACE

Thursday, November 20, 2014


VANISHING GRACE
What Ever Happened To The Good News
By Phillip Yancey

OVERVIEW: In his landmark book What's So Amazing about Grace?, Phillip Yancey issued a call for Christians to be as grace-filled in their behavior as they are in declaring their beliefs. He now returns to this vital subject, asking why Christians continue to lose respect, influence, and reputation in our modern culture. Yet people everywhere still thirst for grace. How can Christians present truly Good News amid the changing landscapes of our time? Why do so many people dislike Christians? How can we communicate faith in an appealing way to future generations? Using his trademark journalistic style―story-filled, compelling, accessible―Yancy explores how grace can bridge the gap between Christian faith and a world increasingly suspicious of it.

AUTHOR: Philip Yancey serves as editor-at-large for Christianity Today magazine. He has written thirteen Gold Medallion Award-winning books and won ECPA Book of the Year awards for What's So Amazing About Grace? and  The Jesus I Never Knew. Four of his books have sold over one million copies. Yancey lives with his wife in Colorado.

MY REVIEW: I agree with Max Lucado who said, "Every Philip Yancey book is worth reading. He is a gift to our generation." This book is one of his best. I also agree with Shane Claiborne who wrote, "There's not much I'd rather read about than grace. And there's no one I' rather have tell me about it than Philip Yancey."

In this book Yancey does a splendid job of telling why the church stirs up negative feelings and then he counters the bad news. He spends much of his time relating stories about how too many Christians make bad news out of the good news. And then he tells stories and gives many examples of how Christians can and are making a positive, grace-filled difference in a world of desperate need.

This is an important book that every Christian needs to read. Yancey does a good job of helping us to see what the world would look like if Christians fulfilled the command to "See to it that no one misses the grace of God."

(I received this book from the Booklook program in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

HOW MUCH PRAYER SHOULD A HAMBURGER GET?

Thursday, November 06, 2014


How Much Prayer Should A Hamburger Get? is the title of an excellent little book of articles on prayer compiled by William J. Krutza and the title of an article in the book written by Eliot J. Carey.

I received the book years ago from friends who wrote these words inside the cover: "Clif, I know you like to read. We enjoyed this so thought we'd get you a copy, hope you enjoy it too. In Christian love, The Overturfs, P.S. Thanks for your terrific lessons!"

I'm going to quote several passages from Carey's article that express how I also feel about saying grace every time we open our mouths for food.

"Saying grace every time we open our mouths for food is a ritual that needs clarification. I know some people who consider it virtually a denial of the faith if they fail to bow their heads and mumble a few words before eating, whether in private, in public, or in the home of a friend."

"Ritualism in saying grace confronts us with all kinds of problems. Obviously we do not pray over all forms of sustenance, else we have sinned at the water cooler and the kitchen tap for years. Nothing is more essential to the body than water---unless it be air, and you can see the problem that raises---but I know of no one, however devout he may be, who prays at the drinking fountain in the park. We also have confession to make over a sizable backlog of Lifesavers, breath mints, salted peanuts, and licorice allsorts, all of which contain frightening amounts of nourishment."

"So we are faced with the problem of classification. Does food rate grace because of its quantity? Or its price? Or the time of day when it is eaten? If one eats a doughnut with coffee at 10:00 A.M. without grace, is one obliged to pray over a sandwich and coffee at noon? If the sandwich is classified as lunch, it requires prayer, because surely one must give thanks for one's meal."

I find the Bible is strangely silent on the topic of saying grace. There is no instruction that I know of for saying grace. I consider the Lord's Supper and Christ's prayer before feeding the multitudes highly special occasions. I do believe the Bible teaches us to always be in the spirit of prayer and I am. I am gratefull for many things and tell God so. Food is one of those things and I thank God for it often---but not just when I am eating. I believe that praying before meals is a good thing but should not be done as a ritual.

I have a copy of Norman Rockwell's painting, in which the old lady and the young child bow their heads and fold their hands in the diner. totally and completely unaware of the glances of onlookers, they say their grace in unaffected sincerity. This is a picture of two people saying in their hearts, "Thank you, God, for everything." With that kind of public grace there can be no fault. But if I feel compelled to do it because others expect it and are looking, then I might need to consider my motive.

RARE BIRD

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

RARE BIRD
A Memoir of Loss and Love
By Anna Whiston-Donaldson

OVERVIEW: In Rare Bird, Anna Whiston-Donaldson unfolds a mother's story of loss that leads, in time, to enduring hope. With this unforgettable account of a family's love and longing, Anna will draw you deeper into a divine goodness that keeps us-beyond all earthly circumstances―safe.

AUTHOR: Anna Whiston-Donaldson is a popular blogger at An Inch of Gray. A graduate of Wake Forest university, she taught high-school English for six years before becoming a full-time mom and writer. She lives with her husband, Tim, and daughter, Margaret, in suburban Washington, DC.

MY REVIEW: This was a difficult book for me to read and review. I have had a hard time reading it because it is so sad. I am finding it difficult to review because of mixed emotions. Anna is a splendid writer and her story needed to be told and needs to be read. But it is a story of loss and that makes it difficult to read. However, the book is also filled with hope and love and we desperately need that. I recommend this book and agree with author Gretchen Rubin, Rare Bird is "Profound, tender, honest―and utterly unforgettable."

Rare Bird is the story of how twelve-year-old  Jack was swept away in a freak neighborhood flood. His parents and younger sister are left to wrestle with the awful questions: How did God let this happen? How can we ever be happy again? They each fall into the abyss of grief in different ways. And in the days and months to come, they each find their faltering way toward peace.

Glennon Doyle Melton, founder of Momastery.com. called the book "A masterpiece of hope, love, and the resilience and ferocity of the human spirit." If someone you know is struggling with the loss of a loved one, I recommend you put a copy of this book in their hands.

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

TABLES INTHE WILDERNESS

Thursday, October 02, 2014


TABLES IN THE WILDERNESS
A memoir of God Found, Lost, and Found Again
By Preston Yancey

OVERVIEW: In Tables in the Wilderness, Preston Yancey arrived at Baylor University in the autumn of 2008 with his life figured out. Then God slowly allowed Preston's secure world to fall apart until every piece of what he thought was true was lost: his church, his life of study, his political leanings, his girlfriend, his best friend...and his God. It was the loss of God in the midst of all the godly things that changed Preston forever. This is the story of God found, lost, and found again.

AUTHOR: Preston Yancy is a lifelong Texan-raised Southern Baptist who fell in love with reading saints, crossing himself, and high church spirituality. He now makes his home within the Anglican tradition. He is a writer, painter, baker and speaker. An alumnus of Baylor University, Preston completed a masters in theology from St. Andres university in Scotland before returning to the States. He and his wife, Hilary, currently live in Waco, Texas, where Hilary is a PhD candidate in philosophy at Baylor.

MY REVIEW: The sub-title of this book, A Memoir of God Found, Lost, and Found Again is what caught my attention. Having been a Senior Minister of the Church of Christ/Independent Christian Church for forty-seven years I have a great interest in Christians and their individual faith. In this book Preston tells his story. And an interesting story it is. Very interesting!

Preston's story is liberal. Mine is more conservative. Therefore, I had a lot to learn from him. And I did! Yes, I was uneasy when reading about his life at Baylor where he took mostly classes that I consider liberal. When in college I never had the kind of classes Preston chose because I had no interest in them. But I was interested in learning about the mindset of his professors and what he was taught. Again, his story interested me---but troubled me.

My review as far as the value of this book is concerned is not about my feelings about Preston's theology and worldview. I recommend this book to every Christian who has struggled with their own faith or has been concerned with the faith of a friend. I'm not sure you will find answers here for anything. But I believe you will be challenged to think about this subject more deeply than you have ever thought about it before. And I believe we all need to be challenged to think seriously about our faith, theology and worldview.

Preston Yancey is a splendid writer. His book is written on a high intellectual level. You will be caught up in his story. I received the book in the mail one afternoon and finished reading it the next afternoon. It's hard to put down.

(I received this book from Booklook Bloggers Book Review Bloggers Program for a fair and honest review.)

"WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR CHURCH CHANGES" BY JOE MCKEEVER---MY RESPONSE

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


This post is my response to Joe McKeever's article posted on Face Book, "What To Do When Your Church Changes." I was amazed at the many comments he received and how many different views were expressed. These comments convinced me that we will never all reach agreement on this.

I am not against change. However, I am not in favor of ALL change.

Every church that isn't striving to be a mega-church is not dying.

There is a place for, and a need for smaller churches that have a close, Christian family feel. As they grow too large for that intimate feeling they can plant a new congregation and keep growing and going.

The church does not have to tear down or remodel their traditional building to make it look secular like a modern shopping mall in order to reach non-Christians.

The Scriptures instruct Christians to assemble on a regular basis to encourage one another. That assembly is for worship and so it is going to be a religious service and we should not try to hide that purpose by disguising it in secular garb and jargon.

The church should be evangelistic but the Sunday morning worship service is not the time for that or so much so that it needs to become more secular than religious. Let the church be the church on a daily basis and like the early church described in Acts 2 souls will be added.

McKeever states in his article that Rick Warren and Andy Stanley and the churches they are with will always be changing. And so they should. They were never traditional. We need churches out on the cutting edge reaching those who cannot be reached by the traditional church. But we do not need to "kill" a great traditional church by making changes it is not ready to make and doesn't need to make just in order to be for change.

We need to stop accusing Christians who oppose changes they consider radical and not needed as being against all change.

Change is the motto of our President and government. I am not against all changes in government but I am strongly against some changes. But that doesn't make me narrow minded and against change.

In a "nut shell" my convictions are that change is good---but not all change. A traditional church that is not dead should not be destroyed in order to rebuild it into a less religious environment so as to appeal to a secular society. I believe this so strongly that I believe that any preacher or group of elders that do this will give account for it on the day of judgment. If a person desires to be with a less traditional church they can join one or plant one of their own. But do not tear apart Christ's church, which is His Body.